Dr Injarit Singh, director of the Network of Sikh Organisations 
Tuesday, 14 October, 2008, 07:09 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Happy 300th anniversary of the elevation of our holy book to guru status everybody! Unlike all the other religions, Sikhism promotes tolerance, equality and justice. It's a very practical religion. That's why, unique among world faiths, we hold a single holy book to be sacred and eternally perfect. It's why our men wear turbans, to remind us that we're different from the rest of you and not stuck in an endless cycle of pointless ritual and superstition.

Like everyone else, including you, I never follow the instructions for self-assembly furniture. If I did, I'd build better furniture. Sikh sacred scripture should be the self-assembly manual for city financiers. It clearly states what acceptable gearing ratios should be, and places sound limits on capital underpinnings of debt. The whole financial meltdown is all due to greed. You'd never have figured that one out by yourself, would you? That's why you need Sikh sacred scripture to guide you. Only Sikh sacred scripture tells you exactly how greedy you're allowed to be when dealing in high leverage derivatives.

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Reverend Canon Doctor Alan Billings 
Monday, 13 October, 2008, 07:22 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Sadly, we don't use the book "Prayers and hymns for junior schools" any more. This was the book that taught us all to be environmental. Thanks to this joyous little book, generations of industrial and political leaders have given us the stable ecosystems and sustainable use of resources that we enjoy today. It was a book that helped us all join together in the worship of the one true Invisible Magic Friend, who is of course my Invisible Magic Friend. It taught us to be moral, to shape our character. Without this book, children today don't have any morals or character. We learned that every job was a calling, a vocation, with which we should be content and not seek to rise above our allotted station in life. Yet mysteriously, two decades after the collapse of the godless evil known as socialism, we find that capitalism, which is a holy system, ordained by god, is itself in danger.

We all took advantage of the loosely regulated debt market, taking on self certified 125% mortgages, and racking up unserviceable credit card debts. Don't try to deny it. As a Reverend Canon Doctor and Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion, Lancaster University, I know that each and every one of you has had your snouts in the trough along with me. The lesson from all of this is clearly that capitalism and ethics go hand in hand.

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Reverend Roy Jenkins, Baptist minister in Cardiff 
Saturday, 11 October, 2008, 09:35 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

They're trying to get some tourists back to Wales by urging everyone who decided to leave Wales to come back for a visit and explore their ancestry. Ancestry is so important. That's why Matthew and Luke go to such lengths to record Jesus' ancestry. Despite their astonishing genealogical record keeping over a period of a couple of thousand years, there appears to be some confusion over who begat who in several places. Both agree though that after a great deal of beggating, someone begat Joseph. Which is rather a shame since Joseph didn't begat anyone, Jesus being born of a virgin as was de rigeur for any self respecting messiah in those days.

I'll just mention the parable of the prodigal son too. The fact that most people left Wales, not to squander their fortunes but to try and find one, won't deflect me either. I wouldn't want you to think that I don't have anything to say today, or that, with the world experiencing complete financial meltdown as we speak, I'm just wandering aimlessly between bits of scripture that seem to have some vague connection to a story that is so far below most people's radar screen that it would be eclipsed by the inter-county decorative egg painting preliminaries.

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Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks 
Friday, 10 October, 2008, 07:15 AM
Rating !!! out of 5 (Platitudinous meter failure)

Happy Sukkot everyone! Yes it's yet another Jewish holy day, suffused with deep spiritual meaning and memories of our historic struggle in the wilderness that all those incompetent archaeologists have mislaid the evidence for.

I'd like to compare the current financial crisis to a great storm. I know others have done that too, but it really is a fantastic metaphor and I'm certainly not getting tired of it yet. I want to tell you a true story about another storm - no, honestly, I'm not making this up. When I was a young newly wed, not yet a chief rabbi, or even a knight of the realm, me and a friend built our respective sukkahs. A sukkah is a temporary hut that we live in for a few days and that consequently makes us much holier than we would otherwise be.

My friend built a really stonking sukkah, whereas mine was a ramshackle old thing. But I took my favourite nail, who I affectionately called 'Faith'. "Faith," I said, "I'm going to bang you into the wall with my favourite hammer, called 'Lump of metal on a stick', thus firmly securing my ramshackle old sukkah to the wall." So I lovingly gave Faith a good banging into the wall. Then a storm came and my friend's sukkah got blown away, but mine remained firmly attached thanks to my favourite nail.

The moral of all this is obvious: if you don't want your sukkah to blow away due to a rapid movement of air, attach it to a wall with a nail called 'Faith'.

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Reverend Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Dean of Women's Ministry in central London 
Thursday, 9 October, 2008, 07:06 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The global financial crisis is causing us all to tighten our belts. Yesterday, the Astonishingly Reverend Bishop of Liverpool asked you to spare a thought for how the rich are suffering through all of this. Today, I'd like you to spare a thought for poor people too. Naturally I'm not going to appeal to your compassion, or to tell you its the moral thing to do - that clearly wouldn't work with Radio 4 listeners. Instead I'll simply tell you that Jesus says you should be nice to poor people. Jesus was the visible third of my otherwise mostly invisible magic friend, and he's always right. So if you were thinking about going out this morning to kick a few beggars, or maybe blow up an orphanage, then I have to tell you that Jesus would be very annoyed about this.

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Impressively Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons 
Wednesday, 8 October, 2008, 08:59 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

It's a terrible time for us all, with a financial hurricane blowing outside and the values of one's hard earned bishop's pension fund plummeting. Jesus, the Robert Peston of his day, talked incessantly about money, always explaining the intricacies of the Galilean money markets to his disciples. But in all this chaos, spare a thought for the former Masters of the Universe. Many of these distraught merchant bankers are people of faith and therefore good people. They have made large contributions to prop up struggling international art dealers and auction houses. Many of them will not receive their multi-million pound Christmas bonuses this year. Some will have to sacrifice their town house in order to put Caspian Sea caviar on the family table. So let us pray for the star traders and executive officers of financial institutions worldwide. They too are suffering through all of this.

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Dr Injarit Singh, director of the Network of Sikh Organisations 
Tuesday, 7 October, 2008, 07:06 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

The world financial crisis just keeps getting worse and worse. Far be it from me to gloat over the consequences for those who have borrowed too much and now face financial ruin. I'm not going to sit here, smugly pontificating on the hazards of greed and no-holes-barred capitalism. I'm sure politicians will learn their lessons and impose stricter regulation on the banks from now on, just like they did after the 1929 crash. I'd just like to tell you about Guru Nanak who, instead of investing money to create wealth, gave it away to clothe the poor. What a wonderful world it would be if we all did that. Jesus, a kind of first century guru, did something much the same. So you see, although I don't like to say I told you so, I have been telling you so for quite some time now.

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Reverend Canon Doctor Alan Billings 
Monday, 6 October, 2008, 07:14 AM
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

We all like to know that we're dealing with experienced people when we put ourselves in the hands of professionals. But life isn't just about experience. We also want people with the potential to live life, to explore new ideas, to look forward and inspire others. That's why I always employ people with faith in an invisible magic friend. As a Reverend Canon Doctor and Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion, Lancaster University, let me just assure you that people without faith have no centre to their lives, no focus. They don't know when to take pride and when to show shame. They have no coherent philosophy or basic orientation in their lives. Other academic presenters on TFTD have pointed out that they have support from Kierkegaard. I'd just like to say that I've read Kierkegaard too and he undoubtedly agrees with everything I say. So when we're on our deathbeds, revelling in the approval of the eternal Kierkegaard, we men and women of faith will have the satisfaction of knowing that we've led a worthwhile life. Unlike you lot.

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Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet 
Saturday, 4 October, 2008, 10:05 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I want to talk to you today about Jesus feeding the 5,000, just like others have done here and here and here... It's such a cracking good story you see. As with all previous speakers we won't mention Elisha doing exactly the same thing. Jesus, being the Invisible Magic Friend without his invisibility cloak, did it so much better. Besides, it makes it look like any ragamuffin prophet can magic food out of nowhere.

My big problem is, what excuse am I going to use to mention the Jesus fast food trick again? Will I talk about food shortages and people starving? Will I talk about greed and gluttony in financial institutions? I know, I'll talk about books. Thursday was super Thursday where the book world launched 800 books for Christmas. And some books are about food!

Food comes into the bible fairly early. Adam and Eve, who shouldn't be taken literally but I'll mention them anyway, made us all sinners by taking culinary advice from a talking snake. Monks eat. Some people give food to other people. Monks do this too - making it a Christian thing to do. Jesus was, of course, the ultimate sharer because he could magic food into existence whenever he wanted.

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Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks 
Friday, 3 October, 2008, 07:18 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Happy Yom Kippur everyone! Yes it's nearly that happy time of year again when we all beat our chests and shake our heads, telling our Invisible Magic Friend what naughty, worthless sinners we've been. It's about time some of you started taking the blame for the mess we're in at the moment. Come on, admit it, you've been secretly selling short and trading in credit default swap derivatives all along haven't you? There's no good pretending you haven't, my Invisible Magic Friend is privy to all your darkest, secret, financial transactions.

Now what about some atonement. Abraham Lincoln called for a day of fasting and prayer in the middle of the civil war. If it was good enough for old Honest Abe then it's good enough for a sinner like you. A good day of atonement and some really good chest beating - that'll sort out global warming, peak oil, food shortages and the collapse of the financial system. And those of us who survive what lies ahead will come out of it all stronger and wiser than before.

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